“What good is money if it can’t inspire terror in your fellow man?” – Montgomery Burns

Well I’ve got to get SOMETHING on here in April.  May as well be a random post.

  1. The new album (“It Could Be Worse”) is very near completion.  I’ve just got photos left to do.  The problem is that’s been impossible.  The photographer and I have been having trouble meshing schedules.  Still hoping to get something finalized soon, but if not, I’ve got a “plan b” for cover-art.  So you’ll probably be listening to the thing roundabout my birthday if all goes to plan.
  2. Been going to church a bit lately.  Took a couple-year hiatus, there.  Assuming I make it in tomorrow (or later today, as the clock would have it), it’ll be three weeks in a row.  It’s been nice.  That’s about all I have to say about it for now.
  3. Today was Record Store Day.  I didn’t go to it.  I’m kind of sick of the whole ordeal.  I’m an AVID music collector, but the notion of a day being set aside where the industry purposely creates too small a supply to meet a demand, where you have to fight to find what you want…it’s just ridiculous and it’s part of what’s killing brick and mortar stores.  If people can listen to Tom Waits’ “Orphans” collection on Spotify, why get up early on a Saturday to go throw elbows to get the vinyl repressing?  If you’re going to make it, make it for those of us who are actively Tom Waits fans and aren’t just jackasses looking to flip the “collectors item” on eBay.  Also, none of the record stores in this town have anywhere near enough parking to make it worth the fight.  So, I’ll pick through the scraps tomorrow, while I’m also shopping on the regular shelves that are there EVERY day.
  4. The podcast is going okay. Numbers are better on the theme shows, but I’ve got my regulars who listen to most episodes regardless.  So that’s about all you can ask for if you’re doing it for free.
  5. I’m writing this on the day Verne Troyer died.  He was preceded by Harry Anderson and Barbara Bush.  It’s been kind of a weird week.

Boy, that’s about all that’s going on.  I’ve got some stuff I’d like to write about in long-form, if I ever get motivated to do so.  So maybe that’ll happen soon.  But until then, I guess this was a mercifully short one.

————
Current Listening: A bunch of Pearl Jam.

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This is too many albums for Facebook…

There’s a thing going on Facebook where you post a different album cover each day with no explanation of why it means so much to you for either 10, 15, or 30 days depending on which version you were tagged in.  I had at least 50 of them.  So it’s going here, instead.  I pulled all of these images off of Amazon and they in order by their file number/name, I think…I just hit “select all” in a folder and then pressed “upload.”  No thought went into the order.

…and also about a dozen more, but this took me like an hour.

By the way, I don’t care that Facebook shared my info and neither should you.  They’re a company and every company has done it. Just because you get an ad, you’re not obligated to buy or believe what it says.  If you don’t want your personal info out there, don’t share it with anyone.  Facebook didn’t give out your address and phone number…YOU did.

Sorry About This

Haven’t blogged in a while and wanted to write something.  Having some trouble getting the juices flowing though, so I decided to find one of those “getting to know you” surveys to spark some ideas.  And this survey has almost 100 questions.  So that’s a post.  Sorry!  At least this one’s a better survey than that last one I took and made you read.

  1. Who is your hero?
    I don’t really have one. Heroes tend to let you down. I have people I admire for individual qualities and I’ve got musicians or writers who I would call INFLUENCES…but “hero” is such a worshipful term I’m really not comfortable applying it to anyone.
  2. If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
    Kinda like it where I am.  But I’d like to visit Ireland, Scotland, England, and Canada(land), and maybe I’d end up in one of those if I had the choice.
  3. What is your biggest fear?
    Spiders.  And dying alone.  So dying alone with a spider.
  4. What is your favorite family vacation?
    We didn’t really take a lot of them.  We went to Arkansas to visit family a lot when I was a kid.  Sometimes it was the whole family, sometimes less.  So probably that I guess? We didn’t ever do the Disney trek or go travelling or anything like that.
  5. What would you change about yourself if you could?
    I’d spend less time doubting whether or not I’d like to go out.
  6. What really makes you angry?
    People getting involved in things that were fine without them.
  7. What motivates you to work hard?
    People getting involved in things that were fine without them.
  8. What is your favorite thing about your career?
    I like at least most of the people I work with. They don’t often get involved in things that were fine without them.
  9. What is your biggest complaint about your job?
    When people get involved in things that were fine without them.
  10. What is your proudest accomplishment?
    This is a hard question because I have trouble crediting myself with things. And even when I know I’ve done something good, by the time I realize it, it’s already in hindsight and I’m working on the NEXT thing…  So…
    I’ve had a pretty good recording career.  We’ll go with that.
  11. What is your child’s proudest accomplishment?
    I guess something its mom didn’t tell me about, since I was unaware I had one until this question.
  12. What is your favorite book to read?
    I read a lot…it’s hard to say.  “Catcher in the Rye” stuck with me.  So did “Lincoln in the Bardo,” more recently.  And a bunch of other stuff…  There are even comic books I’d put on this list like “Bone” or “Blankets” or “Maus.”  “Angela’s Ashes” impacted me greatly and so did several Vonnegut books of course (“Cat’s Cradle,” “Slaughterhouse Five,” etc).  A couple of spiritual authors like Brennan Manning and Tony Campolo have meant a lot to me in the past too, although a lot of my “spiritual” reading ended when I started unindoctrinating myself from my Bible College years and listening to the MESSAGE of Christ rather than poking at every Greek letter…
    I could go on and on…  But those are the books and authors that popped into mind.  Plus a controversial thought at the end to grow on.
  13. What makes you laugh the most?
    A lot of things.  Usually just any conversation where the participants (myself included) just let themselves be silly and sort of daydream or spin into madness. Also cat videos.
  14. What was the last movie you went to? What did you think?
    I’m genuinely trying to remember the last time I went TO a theatre. I don’t do that very often.  It might have been “Elvis & Nixon” with my dad back in 2016.  I liked it.  With what’s come out about Kevin Spacey since, I’ve got some mixed emotions though.
  15. What did you want to be when you were small?
    Everything at one point or another.  But probably mostly a famous musician.
  16. What does your child want to be when he/she grows up?
    Again, you’ll have to ask its mom, I guess.  Also please let me know who she is and how and when this happened, if you don’t mind.
  17. If you could choose to do anything for a day, what would it be?
    Meet my child.
  18. What is your favorite game or sport to watch and play?
    I’m not really into sports.  I don’t enjoy playing anything, that’s for sure. But I do enjoy watching the occasional soccer game and I like to watch darts.  I also enjoy both the Winter and Summer Olympics.  And if wrestling counts (it should) then that’s it hands-down.
  19. Would you rather ride a bike, ride a horse, or drive a car?
    Car.  The rest of that sounds like there’s way too much wind involved and it’s probably rough on the ol’ nutsack.
  20. What would you sing at Karaoke night?
    I’d need four friends and we will ROCK THE SHIT out of “Wannabe” by the Spice Girls.
  21. What two radio stations do you listen to in the car the most?
    KDHX and KSHE, I guess.  The former way more than the latter.
  22. Which would you rather do: wash dishes, mow the lawn, clean the bathroom, or vacuum the house?
    Wash dishes.  I actually kind of like doing dishes.  The water’s warm, you can listen to music or a podcast or something and still count it as “productive” and you feel kind of accomplished once you’ve put them into the washer and started it.  (I hand wash then put them in the dishwasher.  This is the only appropriate method.  I will fight you.)
  23. If you could hire someone to help you, would it be with cleaning, cooking, or yard work?
    Probably cleaning. I get lazy about it.  Like for years at a time.
  24. If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
    Probably corned beef and cabbage (with potatoes and/or carrots).
  25. Who is your favorite author?
    I think it’s probably Kurt Vonnegut.
  26. Have you ever had a nickname? What is it?
    A couple in high school, I think…but I’m having trouble remembering them.  My brother (and some others) sometimes call me Wayne, which probably counts since it’s not my middle name. I haven’t really had many that have stuck. People who try are usually greeted with strong negative reactions and drop it.  Just call me Derek.  Or Wayne.  I’ll answer to Wayne.
  27. Do you like or dislike surprises? Why or why not?
    It depends on the surprise.  “Hey Derek, there’s free cake!”  That’s great!  “Hey Derek, there’s an active shooter!”  That’s bad.
  28. In the evening, would you rather play a game, visit a relative, watch a movie, or read?
    Any of those will be fine.  You pick.  What time? Can I bring anything?
  29. Would you rather vacation in Hawaii or Alaska, and why?
    Alaska.  I prefer cold climates.
  30. If money was no object, what would you do all day?
    Probably pretty much what I’m doing right now, just without an alarm clock looming over me.
  31. If you could go back in time, what year would you travel to?
    I don’t know.  Maybe one of the years where I could see The Who when Moon was still alive or something.
  32. How would your friends describe you?
    You’d have to ask my friends.
  33. What are your hobbies?
    Numerous…  Mostly pop-culture stuff.  A lot of people would count my musical meanderings as a hobby.  I read a lot.  Watch a lot of TV.  Stuff like that.  I also enjoy making stuff, so I try to find projects to work on or things to do around the house that feed into that.
  34. What is the best gift you have been given?
    That’s a tough one.  I come from a very generous family and “best gift” changes over time too–like when I was 11 it might’ve been the ticket to see Styx play live in St. Louis.  When I was 14, it might’ve been my bass amp.  When I was in my 20s it might’ve been the roof over my head while I was half-assing my way through college.  I know that I value gestures more than things, though…  And thankfully there have been enough of those that it’s overwhelming trying to narrow it down.
  35. What is the worst gift you have received?
    Smash Mouth’s Greatest Hits.
  36. Aside from necessities, what one thing could you not go a day without?
    Entertainment.
  37. List two pet peeves.
    (1) When you can hear people chewing.
    (2) People commenting on what they did, saw, heard, or smelled in a public restroom.
  38. Where do you see yourself in five years?
    I try not to think that far ahead.
  39. How many pairs of shoes do you own?
    I don’t know, a million?
  40. If you were a super-hero, what powers would you have?
    I’d abuse them.  It’s best not to give me any.
  41. What would you do if you won the lottery?
    I’ve thought about this.  I wouldn’t tell anyone about it and I wouldn’t outwardly try to show it off. But I’d buy a lot more dinners and stuff like that and probably worry a little less.  I wouldn’t do one BIG thing, I’d just spend when I wanted to, knowing there’s a nest-egg there. I mean, I might pay off a credit card or my student loan…but in general, I think you’d be surprised by how little it would change me.
  42. What form of public transportation do you prefer? (air, boat, train, bus, car, etc.)
    I don’t take public transportation. I have no opinion.
  43. What’s your favorite zoo animal?
    Bears, maybe? Or the masturbating monkeys?  One of those.
  44. If you could go back in time to change one thing, what would it be?
    I don’t know.  I’m not sure there’s a pivotal moment or decision that would really significantly change that much and those that would probably wouldn’t ultimately be beneficial to anyone.  I’d take back a thing or two I said or avoid going to events I know in hindsight that I didn’t enjoy.  But there’s not one specific thing that leaps to mind as “THAT is the ONE THING!!!”
  45. If you could share a meal with any 4 individuals, living or dead, who would they be?
    That’s an excellent question and I’m choosing to answer it with as little seriousness as possible.  I would go to dinner with Gordon Ramsey, Guy Fieri, Paul Prudhomme, and Emeril Lagasse.  We would go to White Castle.
  46. How many pillows do you sleep with?
    More than you’d think.  I’ve got a firm “My Pillow” and a buckwheat pillow under my head.  Then I’ve got a number of other pillows just kind of AROUND in case I need them because of my back pain…  Sometimes I’ll need to put a pillow under my back so I can have some support there.  Or sometimes between my knees if my sciatica is hurting my hip.  Or sometimes in-between my ankles if my knees hurt.  All told, I think there are up to five pillows on the bed at any given time.
  47. What’s the longest you’ve gone without sleep (and why)?
    I think like four days.  I was depressed.  Didn’t eat for a few of those days, either.  Wasn’t a good period.
  48. What’s the tallest building you’ve been to the top in?
    I really have no idea.  I don’t know that I’ve been in too many tall buildings and when I have been, it hasn’t been important to me to remember the number of floors.
  49. Would you rather trade intelligence for looks or looks for intelligence?
    I’d trade both on Tuesday for a hamburger today.
  50. How often do you buy clothes?
    Pretty regularly.  I’m kind of a t-shirt collector, so I get those frequently.  Pants and socks and stuff as needed.  I enjoy buying clothes, so I do it often.
  51. Have you ever had a secret admirer?
    How in the fuck would I know that if it was a secret?
  52. What’s your favorite holiday?
    Thanksgiving.  And sometimes St. Patrick’s Day.
  53. What’s the most daring thing you’ve ever done?
    It isn’t something I’m proud of, so I’ll pass on this one.
  54. What was the last thing you recorded on TV?
    Looks like it was The Graham Norton Show on 3/9.
  55. What was the last book you read?
    I’m a few stories into George Saunders’ “Tenth of December.”  It’s good.
  56. What’s your favorite type of foreign food?
    I guess Chinese food. Or maybe Greek because I do love lamb. But I get Chinese more often.  So probably that.
  57. Are you a clean or messy person?
    I’m a fucking slob, thankyouverymuch.
  58. Who would you want to play you in a movie of your life?
    Tough call…most of my favorite actors are too old.  Maybe somebody like Paul Dano would be age appropriate and he’d be great at it.
  59. How long does it take you to get ready in the morning?
    Depends on the morning and what’s happening with my back.  Anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes.
  60. What kitchen appliance do you use every day?
    Microwave, I guess.
  61. What’s your favorite fast food chain?
    I eat at a lot of them.  This is hard.  Wendy’s maybe?
  62. What’s your favorite family recipe?
    My grandma’s banana nut cake.  Oh shit…I forgot to call her tonight. I meant to do that.
  63. Do you love or hate rollercoasters?
    Indifferent. I feel like if you’ve ridden one you’ve ridden them all.  I’d go on one, but I’d probably think going to the park was a waste of money.
  64. What’s your favorite family tradition?
    I guess we have them, but I don’t really think of them that way.  Probably the longest standing one and the one I’ve made it a point not to compromise is Sunday dinners with Dad, though.
  65. What is your favorite childhood memory?
    I don’t really have one.  I don’t mean that in any kind of philosophical way or sad way.  I just really don’t do well at recalling my achievements, accomplishments, or happy occasions.  I often have to be reminded of them.  There were a lot of them.  That’s good enough.
  66. What’s your favorite movie?
    This is a VERY hard question, but my default answer is “12 Angry Men.”  I might have to do a podcast episode on this topic some time.
  67. How old were you when you learned Santa wasn’t real? How did you find out?
    I don’t remember.  It seems like it wasn’t that big of a deal.  My parents always gave me better gifts than Santa did anyway.  I was in my 20s before I realized they did it that way on purpose, though.
  68. Is your glass half full or half empty?
    I can’t remember where I put the fucking glass and it’s a red Solo cup, anyway. I’ll just get a new one.
  69. What’s the craziest thing you’ve done in the name of love?
    Nothing too crazy.  Mostly I’ve just put in way too much drive-time on somebody who wouldn’t do the same in the past.
  70. What three items would you take with you on a deserted island?
    Food, water, and shelter.
  71. What was your favorite subject in school?
    Music and art classes.  You know.  The ones they don’t want to fund anymore.
  72. What’s the most unusual thing you’ve ever eaten?
    The first thing that came to mind was chicken hearts, but there’s probably something weirder.
  73. Do you collect anything?
    I covered that above, kinda…  But yeah.  CDs/vinyl.  Movies.  Books.  T-shirts.  Guitars.  And things related to those interests–sometimes a figurine, sometimes a poster, etc…  Hear all about it every week on my podcast, Empty Checking!
  74. Is there anything you wished would come back into fashion?
    People need to get away from streaming media and go back to collecting physical products.  And I think they WILL.  It’s just going to take some time and a plunge in Google or Apple’s bottom line that makes them fuck over their customers on storage space to wake people up.  Or just ONE really good hacker who fucks up everybody’s “cloud” and they realize they really can’t depend on it.  Or Netflix going under.  There are a lot of ways it COULD happen.  I’m interested to see which one takes place.  And when it does, friends, come to me and I will help you replace your lost Frank Zappa CDs.
  75. Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
    Depends on the setting and situation.  But by default more of an introvert.
  76. Which of the five senses would you say is your strongest?
    Well, to begin with, the human body has WAY more than five senses.  That’s a significant simplification of a very complex set of inborn attributes.
    For example, we don’t JUST have a sense of touch.  We can touch something and have the sensation of knowing it will be sticky, furry, hot, cold, etc…  And that’s what most people mean.  But the human body also has an innate sense of knowledge of its relationship to itself.  Close your eyes.  Now keep them closed and touch your two index fingers to one another.  How did you do that without seeing your hands?  You used your body’s sense of itself.  This sense is the same one responsible for “phantom pains” when someone loses a limb. The body’s knowledge of itself fascinates me on a deep level.
    We also have a sense of morality, a sense of humor, a sense of self-value, and there are those who would even call our ability to anticipate a reaction based on sight/sound/etc, otherwise known as “intuition” as its own sense in and of itself.  The human body is a complicated wonderland of senses that are far more numerous than the five we’ve come to identify.  Here is an article from Cracked that cites sources indicating it may be anywhere from 14 to 20 on average, based on most studies. (The body’s awareness of itself–proprioception–is mentioned in the article.)
    Anyway…  Smell.
  77. Have you ever had a surprise party? (that was an actual surprise)
    I don’t think so.  And I really wouldn’t want one.  I don’t like people making too big a deal about my birthday, especially if there are a bunch of strangers around.  And I’d want to have the benefit of knowing I was going to have to be around a group of people who all wanted to talk to me all night.
  78. Are you related or distantly related to anyone famous?
    No one that springs to mind, but there may be someone I’m forgetting.
  79. What do you do to keep fit?
    I do not.
  80. Does your family have a “motto” – spoken or unspoken?
    Probably. But we’ve never formalized it. We joke occasionally that for example when you’ve overloaded the trunk of your car and things are destined to fall over and break but you close it anyway and mutter, “nah, it’ll be fine,” THAT’S the Brink family motto.  But in general, I don’t think we’ve officially got anything. Unless referring to something that isn’t working as “well, this shittin’ thing” counts. Dad started that one and I know I use it regularly.
  81. If you were ruler of your own country what would be the first law you would introduce?
    By Official Decree of the Office of The Derek: Everybody stop being dicks and follow the goddamn road laws because YOU’RE the reason we HAVE them; you don’t know better, you’re part of the problem, and YES I’M TALKING TO YOU.
  82. Who was your favorite teacher in school and why?
    Mr. Koontz, my choir teacher is the first who comes to mind.  He was a warm, encouraging man and he always had kind words to say to me.  He believed in me and made me a section leader in the choir, encouraged me to get into our chamber choir, and constantly guided me toward doing my best.  If anyone reading this ever finds him on Facebook, please let me know.  I’d enjoy saying hello.
    Then the same for Mr. Hudson who was my science teacher in Jr High and then in 9th grade.  When my mom died, he kept me after class into his prep-period on the day I got back from being out to deal with it and asked me if I was okay, told me he’d lost his dad when he was my age and said if I needed to talk to anybody he’d be glad to make time for me.  I’ve thought about that a lot and I’ve tried to do the same for people I’ve known since who have lost a parent.  I’ve not found him on Facebook either.
    I’d like to tell both of those guys how much their little gestures meant.
    Then in college, I had the pleasure of turning similar professors into friends…and they are on Facebook and know what they mean to me.
  83. What three things do you think of the most each day?
    I’m assuming we’re talking about material things here…so I’ll say:
    (1) My laptop because I use it for a lot of stuff including most of my hobbies.
    (2) My phone because I’m addicted to social media.
    (3) My bed, because I wish I were in it.
  84. If you had a warning label, what would yours say?
    Caution: Words may be harmful.
  85. What song would you say best sums you up?
    This is impossible to answer and I am not even going to try. There are too many fucking songs.
  86. What celebrity would you like to meet at Starbucks for a cup of coffee?
    Good question…  It might be interesting to have a chat with Brian Wilson.  I’d love to pick his brain about sound production and the beauty of the small background parts that no one cares about except for the writer.  Or I know Rufus Wainwright frequents Starbucks, based on his Facebook page, and it seems like he’d be fun to talk to.  Or maybe someone like a Jenna Fischer because I could start with “I’m from St. Louis too, where’d you go to high school?” and she seems nice based on her twitter.  Or one of my favorite comics like a Patton Oswalt or Marc Maron.  And I always thought I’d get along with Sally Field for some reason.
    But really that scenario has got to be weird for them because they don’t know me AT ALL and I know a lot about them…so ideally just somebody with whom I could talk about more than just the thing they’re famous for…  I know Neil Peart of Rush hates when fans come up to him and fawn over his music, but if somebody doesn’t recognize him and wants to talk about the weather, he’ll talk to them all day.  (So I know what my move would be with Neil…after a two hour conversation about bird migration patterns, I’d end with, “Tell Geddy and Alex I said hi.” and then get punched.)  Whatever the case, I’d try to make it more than just the “OHMYGODYOURESOGREAT!” fan gibberish and have a conversation THEY can enjoy as much as I do.
  87. Who was your first crush?
    I don’t want to put a person’s name out there.  She’s a very nice person and she’s a mom now.
  88. What’s the most interesting thing you can see out of your office or kitchen window?
    From the office I can see a street and a parking lot.  From my kitchen, I can see my yard.  That’s about it.
  89. On a scale of 1-10 how funny would you say you are?
    Maybe like a 6-8 depending on when you catch me.  Sometimes I’m a solid 3.
  90. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
    I didn’t even plan for 5.
  91. What was your first job?
    That the state made me pay taxes on?  My parents wanted me to enjoy being a teenager and I was probably part of the last generation that COULD do that…so I didn’t get a real job until I became a part time library worker in college.  But I played in a bunch of bands and roadied and stuff before that, and it sure felt like work, and there was some money thrown around for it.
  92. If you could join any past or current music group which would you want to join?
    The band I want to join doesn’t exist.  It’s me and a list of my musician friends who get together and we play songs we wrote and we all like playing together and we’re great.  But most of them are too busy.  And I’m too lazy.
  93. How many languages do you speak?
    Most of one.
  94. What is your favorite family holiday tradition?
    Whenever we get together, whatever that means.
  95. Who is the most intelligent person you know?
    I haven’t tested.
  96. If you had to describe yourself as an animal, which one would it be?
    Like a clinically depressed basset-hound maybe? An extremely forgetful cat?
  97. What is one thing you will never do again?
    Graduate from high school.
  98. Who knows you the best?
    Probably either my dad or my brother.  Maybe both.

Well, that was thorough.  Sorry again!

————

Current Listening:

  • Decemberists – The Crane Wife
  • Snow Patrol – Eyes Open

“Eventually I stopped caring. But that was the ’80s so nobody noticed.” – Rev. Lovejoy

I was surprised to find that I haven’t blogged in over a month.  It’s been a busy and slightly frustrating (because it’s so busy) period over the past month.  So let’s just hit some highlights in a random post.

  1. On Friday night, my friend Bruce and I went to see Rufus Wainwright with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra at Powell Hall.  As is well documented on the blog over the past decade, I’m a big Rufus Wainwright fan.  However, somehow I’d managed to never see him in concert until this past weekend.  It was worth every bit of the wait.  I’m going to talk about it in full on my podcast this week, but in brief, he played most of my favorites and provided a deeply moving and entertaining experience. He’s just great.
  2. I’ve been hard at work on the new album.  I’ve got a mix I like, but the limiting in the master keeps getting away from me and it gets over-compressed with a muddy bass EQ.  I know that doesn’t mean anything to most people reading this.  But it’s what’s going on.  🙂
  3. I’ve been playing Zelda: Breath of the Wild on the Switch.  I like it as an experience, but I think it fails as an actual GAME.  It seems like the actual critical gameplay is left unexplained with GIGANTIC leaps in difficulty from one mission to the next and a majority of the game’s time is spent just figuring out WHAT to do (and then endlessly walking there) rather than working out how to do it…  It’s a lot of FUN, but it’s not a great GAME.  I find myself constantly needing a walkthrough just to find the next thing I’m supposed to do (looking at YOU, sensors in the “divine beasts”)–then when I’ve found it, the puzzles are too short to really be considered fun gameplay.  The fun of the game is wandering through the massive open world and finding new stuff, and on that level, it succeeds overwhelmingly.  But we have Stardew Valley for that…  Of course, I’ve never been a fan of playing Zelda games anyway.  I’m a Mario man. So I may just be the wrong audience for it.  But hey…ultimately, it is fun.  Even if it’s 90% just walking.
  4. Following the dental extractions I wrote about in the last post, I’ve been slowly moving toward regularly chewing on both sides.  Unfortunately, the migraines don’t seem to have stopped.  I got one just yesterday.  But I’m still hopeful that it’s just a process and my brain has to rewrite how it processes not having the constant tooth pain, so it’s just taking some time.  If nothing else, I made it 2 weeks between occurrences this time.  It had been weekly.  So maybe that’s progress.
  5. I’ve been enjoying the Olympics.  Adam Rippon is exactly as good as he thinks he is and he’s made a fan out of me.  Also Curling.
  6. I’ve had a lot of back pain lately. Mostly first thing in the morning.  I’ve got sciatica, as per an Urgent Care diagnosis in early 2017 (but I could’ve told you as far back as 2003) and sometimes it just hurts first thing in the morning.  I’ve changed a couple of things about my sleep position and the way I get up in the morning and it’s helping a little…but basically I blew something out a few weeks back and it’s taking forever to heal.  And my sleep position and pretty old mattress aren’t helping it.  It typically gets better throughout the day, but early in the morning, it hurts to bend down and pick up my shoes.  So…that sucks.
  7. I’m going to be recording a friend’s demo next weekend.  I really need to clean my house.
  8. Speaking of my house…  I’m working on some stuff around the house.  I’m putting up art and shelves and things.  I most recently constructed a CD tower that holds just about my whole collection (it’s gigantic) and I’m working on getting some stuff into place elsewhere as well.  Which is leading to me identifying stuff that I need to fix.  Particularly in the bathroom, which has been falling apart since it was remodeled years ago.  My towel rack is hanging onto the wall by a thread.  Same for the toilet paper holder.  The sink was leaking so bad I had to turn off the cold water (and I haven’t fixed that yet even though it was around Christmas).  The hot water knob on the shower is loose…  It’s a mess.  Every problem is an easy fix.  It’s just that there are SEVERAL easy fixes.
  9. I got a haircut on Thursday.  No big deal.

And I think that’s it.  It’s getting late and I have work in the morning.  So…  Bye until next time!

————

Current Listening:

Still Rufus.  Presently his “Live at the Artist’s Den” album that I never really absorbed, but I’m enjoying a lot now that I’ve seen him.  Going to listen to “Rufus Does Judy” (his faithful recreation of Judy Garland’s “Carnegie” concert) next.

I shouldn’t do PSAs about drugs. I enjoy them too much.

Since we last met, I’ve had dental surgery.  So…here’s how that went.

I was nervous going in–more than I’m proud of, in fact.  It was less the dental surgery itself than it was the anesthesia.  I read years ago that Peter Faulk (TV’s Columbo) went into a coma and then died following being put under for dental surgery.  And I know there are very small odds for that kind of thing to happen. But every time it doesn’t, those odds go up, and I guess I was feeling lucky.  (Spoiler alert: I’m not in a coma.)

Dad drove me to the appointment, because I was going to need a ride home.  We sat and talked about nothing for a bit in the waiting room, then I was taken back for the surgery.  They asked me some preliminary questions, confirmed I had a ride home, etc.  I asked a few questions, all of which were answered with the totally committal, “it’s different for everybody” bullshit…  Then they put an oxygen mask on me and left me sitting with a blood-pressure reader on me for probably 15-20 minutes.  Eventually they wheeled in an IV that was going to be putting me to sleep.  And I watched my pulse and blood pressure go up a little.

When the doctor came in, he seemed to be in a weirdly good mood.  Told him I was nervous and he said, “we get a lot of that.”  Then he explained about the IV and prepared me for when I’d feel “a little pinch” at it going in.  Then it went in.  I said, “I apologize in advance for anything I say when I wake up…  I mean, I think I’m a good person, but who knows?”  And the doctor said, “We get a lot of that, too.”  Then they put a thing in my mouth that was designed to keep it open while he was working…  And then I woke up.

Okay.  They say that you wake up without knowing you were asleep.  That’s bullshit.  I had no concept of how LONG I’d been out and no memory of anything that happened or anything like that…but I KNEW I’d been out and I knew the surgery was done.  They led me to a comfortable chair for recovery and brought my dad back.  My memory of that is in and out.  I know they were talking to him about the prescriptions I was going to need and told him I did well and they used less anesthetic than anticipated, so we’d be getting some money back.  At one point, I remember pointing to the poster on the wall behind my dad and saying, “Is that the Beatles?”  He said yes, and I said I saw four of them and two of him…  And that’s when I realized I was stoned off my ass.

I have limited experience with drugs.  We’ve all made mistakes and smoked or swallowed something handed to us by a friend…but I don’t regularly partake in anything these days.  I haven’t even been drunk in five years come May 27.  So this was an interesting experience.  And I’ve got to say it’s one I could get used to.  (So I’m not taking the narcotic pain-killer they recommended.)  Colors looked brighter.  It was raining, but it felt sunny to me.  They gave me an ice-pack to put on my face, and I’m pretty sure it was what Jesus must feel like.  Drugs are neat.  Don’t do them.

Went back to Dad’s condo, where he could keep an eye on me for a bit.  As the drugs wore off and some pain settled in, I got pissy and so forth.  Eventually, I was feeling normal enough to go home, so Dad took me home and I’ve been there recovering ever since.

It hasn’t been too bad.  I can feel a ***little*** bit of swelling in my gums.  But I haven’t had any significant visual swelling and not a ton of pain.  My jaw is a little stiff and I’ll get an occasional shot of pain if something touches the wounds.  Also, it on and off feels like I’ve got a mild sore throat…  But all of that’s normal.  The swelling is slowly going down and I’m getting used to the missing teeth.  I had four molars removed on the left side (two wisdom teeth, two not).  It’ll take a bit to get used to, but I don’t need any partial plates or anything like that.  Just time to heal and soft foods to eat for a little while.

It’s been a long journey since my first dental appointment in 2011.  Here’s what the damage was like then:

my_big_fat_mouth

That’s a mess.  My grill was so banged up, it looked like I just hit a deer.  There’s still more to do, but here’s where we are now in 2018…  The red marks are extractions, fillings, and so far one root canal:

 

my_big_fat_mouth - EDITED4
It’s interesting how we’re leaving in the sideways one on the bottom, isn’t it?

 

Whew…

As I’ve stated elsewhere, I hope the extractions from Thursday (that whole field of red Xs) will help with the migraines I’ve been having lately.  We’ll see…but so far I’m already feeling the benefits within my mouth.  I’ve been in pain for 10-15 years since the wisdom teeth came in.  With them out, there’s a lot less CONSTANT pain.  I think the reason it seems like I’m healing so well is that when you’ve been in pain for 15 years and the source goes away, the pain of the surgery wounds healing is really no big deal.  If nothing else (sorry this is gross), today marked the first time in I-don’t-know-how-long that I’ve brushed my teeth and didn’t spit out blood.  So that’s kind of a good feeling.  As is the fact that my left cheek is actually healing up now instead of being constantly accidentally bitten and slashed by broken, jagged teeth.  There’s been a swollen section to that cheek for YEARS that is receding this week!

I’ll be going in to see my regular dentist in about a month to make sure everything’s healing okay and to presumably do more work on my remaining issues.  But the worst part is over for now.  So yay!

I’ll let everybody know when I’ve eaten my first post-surgery steak.  All this soup and mac and cheese and stuff like that is getting boring.

 

“Well, whenever I’m confused, I just check my underwear. It holds the answer to all the important questions.” – Abraham Simpson

Well…no better way to start the new year than by writing the same kind of post I always write…so let’s get a Simpsons quote in the title and do the random thing.

  1. Happy new year.  I didn’t do anything at all on New Year’s Eve/Day.  I don’t really care for it.  It’s just an arbitrary passing of the clock that exists mostly for tax purposes and nothing makes January 1 any more unique than September 7th or whatever.  No need for the hubbub.
  2. I did go to Vintage Vinyl on New Year’s Eve during the day with my brother…but that didn’t really have anything to do with the holiday.  I hadn’t been in Vintage in a while and enjoyed the trip.  I ended up buying a hoodie and the Motorhead cover-album that came out in 2017 (which would have been ineligible for the top ten, as all of it was previously available elsewhere except for their baffling cover of Bowie’s “Heroes.”)
  3. Dave published his top ten list, by the way. You should go check it out.
  4. I’ve been spending a lot of time playing around with my Nintendo Switch.  So far I’ve got Mario Odyssey, WWE 2K18, and Shovel Knight.  I like all three a lot.  I spent most of today playing the WWE game.  I’ll have you know my create-a-character Adorable Dingus McGee is climbing the ranks and is already the NXT champion.  Meanwhile, newcomer “America’s Sweetheart” CHAD is making a name for himself in the heavyweight division.  It’s a lot of fun.  Mario, of course, is breathtaking.  And Shovel Knight is exactly what you’d expect a game called Shovel Knight to be like.  It’s nice to be back into gaming.
  5. I have a dental surgery scheduled for January 11th.  I know it’ll be the best thing for me, but I’m (understandably) nervous about it.  I’ve only been sedated twice in my life.  One I barely remember, but I remember being VERY out of it and confused.  The other I remember waking up and not thinking I’d been under, then Mom decided it was a perfect time to go to K-Mart and do some shopping with me pushing the cart.  (A+ parenting, there.)  So I don’t know what it’ll be like, really…and I’m nervous about the pain/recovery and the probability of facial swelling.  But hopefully it’ll be the answer to my migraine problem.  (They’ve still been occurring semi-regularly.)
  6. If I didn’t have the surgery scheduled, I might take a couple of days off just for vacation time.  I’ve been exhausted lately.  And I could use the time to work on stuff.  But I’m planning to be out of the office for at least the 11th and 12th with an ice pack on my face.  So that’s probably about as close as I’m getting to a vacation.
  7. I’m hoping to go see Rufus Wainwright in February.  But I don’t know anyone who likes him other than me…  He’ll be playing with the St. Louis Symphony and it sounds like something I’m going to love.  I think I’m just going to buy two tickets and then try to talk someone into it after the fact.  But I’m going to wait until after the surgery to do it (at the very least).  If nothing else, I’d feel kinda guilty buying concert tickets knowing that I’m about to have an insanely expensive dental procedure done.  If I wait until after that money’s spent, I’ll probably be better able to convince myself that I’ve been through a lot and I deserve it.  🙂
  8. After the teeth are out and the headaches are gone (assuming that happens), I need to get back to being active at doing things.  I’ve been lazy lately.  Friendships, church attendance, and even musical practice has been very much on the backburner for the majority of 2017.  As much as I don’t care that it’s 2018 now, it would be nice to have something resembling a social life again by this time next year.
  9. Also in 2018, I’ll be putting out the “It Could Be Worse” record.  I need to do a photo session before I can put it out though…which I imagine won’t happen until Spring.  It’s colder than a witch’s tit out there right now.  (Side note: I’ve never been sure what makes witches tits so cold, but I like the expression.)  I think “outdoor” shots will be necessary for this record, so I’m thinking it’ll be after the thaw.  The vocal tracks are all recorded and I’m deep into mixing.  It’s not done-done yet, but it’s close. More to come.

I think that’s all I’ve got.  Happy blah-blah.  I’m sure I’ll blog about all of my dental fears and such later.

————

Current Listening: Assorted Talking Heads and also some Elton John.

Top 10 Albums of 2017

I meant to write some other stuff before I posted this, but it’s pretty much the only thing I talked about on this week’s episode of Empty Checking, so I decided to go ahead and post it now.  If you listened to the podcast, this is a rehash, but this one’s for the folks who can’t/won’t listen to it, but still want to know what I liked this year.  Plus, it just wouldn’t feel right not to post the Top 10 on the blog after all these years!  This year, I had a lot to choose from…  Here’s a photo of the complete collection of the new-releases I bought in 2017.

2017
I’m counting 44 albums.

The top ten are in there somewhere…but so are a lot of runners up and a couple that I didn’t like as much.  I’m going to try to keep this as concise as possible. But as you can imagine…  Ahem…

Let’s get into it!  These are the 10 I liked best this year from 10 to 1 (album cover images lovingly stolen from Amazon):

10. Guided by Voices – “How Do You Spell Heaven?”

GBV

GBV released two albums this year.  For front-man Robert Pollard, they were respectively albums number 100 and 101 in his career (studio albums 24 and 25 for Guided by Voices).  I’m nowhere near familiar with his complete discography.  I’m probably only about 10-15 albums into the GBV discography, in fact. But I like what I have a lot and this album is a welcome addition to the pile.  Of the two albums GBV put out this year, I liked this one a little more.  The other album (album #100 – “August by Cake”) is great too, and I considered doing a “tie” entry for this slot, but I do like this one just enough to make it an entry unto itself.  The two albums combined create a good snapshot of the Guided by Voices feel, but if I were going to recommend just one of the two to someone who’s unfamiliar with them, it would be “How Do You Spell Heaven?”  Great album.

9. Old 97s – “Graveyard Whistling”

old 97sI’ve been an Old 97s fan since I found out there was an “alt-country” genre.  (It means “rock,” but the singer listens to Johnny Cash.) I’ve had the pleasure of seeing the band live on several occasions. They’re fun, they’re sloppy, and their songs are catchy as hell.  That’s a winning combo.  “Graveyard Whistling” embodies all of that fun and chaos. And Brandi Carlile shows up to sing on a song (“Good with God”), which is neat.  The video for said song (which does not feature Brandi, but does feature Jenna Fischer and Fred Armisen) is a good laugh mixed with a great song, and I recommend Googling it.  The whole album feels like it might fall apart at any time in the best way, and it’s probably the album I’ve liked best from the band since 2004’s “Drag it Up.” I keep singing songs from it 10 months after buying it…so here it is on the list!

8. Craig Finn – “We All Want the Same Things”

craig finnThis was one of the albums I really fell in love with this year, and it happened early on.  It’s got some fun, up-tempo stuff that will have you tapping your toes.  Finn could lean back and relax in his solo career, but instead he brings in the same life and energy he brings to his performances with The Hold Steady.  But just beyond the surface of that, there are also some real sleepy ballads that are deeply gripping–it’s the same energy…it’s just intensely whispered, rather than yelled.  The song “God in Chicago” is a song about falling in love with the sister of a dead friend while completing what was to be the friend’s final drug deal in Chicago. It gets dark…but there’s a lot of beauty in that darkness too. I’ve returned to this one a lot this year.

7. Jason Isbell – The Nashville Sound

isbellI’m a little surprised not to have this one somewhere in the top three.  But it has been a truly stellar year that puts what might otherwise be #1 records in the #7 slot!  “The Nashville Sound” has some instant-classics on it.  The first time I heard “If We Were Vampires” (a touching love song–no, really) I almost got teary-eyed.  Isbell can’t write a bad album.  That said, my favorite remains “Southeastern,” but this one looks pretty good sitting on the shelf next to it.  There are some songs on this one (“Anxiety,” “White Man’s World,” and the aforementioned) that have already become part of my personal life soundtrack, and there was no doubt…from the second I put the money on the counter at the record store, I knew it was in the top ten.

6. Living Colour – “Shade”

living colourYes.  The “Cult of Personality” guys.  But they’re SO MUCH more than that, and shame on you for not knowing it.  (Although you’re in good company.  The band themselves poke fun at themselves for being known for just the one song on this album.)  I like Living Colour a lot.  I go long periods between listens, but they also go long periods without putting out new stuff. After 33 years of being a band, “Shade” is their sixth album. So one can be forgiven for not being aware they’re still doing stuff…  But now that you know, you can’t be forgiven if you don’t pick this one up.  It’s got the infectious groove they’re known for.  It’s got the crazy guitar riffs they’re envied for.  It’s got the lyrics they’re respected for.
The songs on this album are (in places) racially and politically charged in ways most people don’t have the guts to attempt, and the anger and energy will work its way into your blood from moment one.  With songs about everything from the execution of Mike Brown on the streets of Ferguson to covers of songs by Robert Johnson (“Preachin’ Blues”), Notorious BIG (“Who Shot Ya’?”), and Marvin Gaye (“Inner City Blues”).  This album is all over the place, fun, crazy, emotional, and just fantastic.  Buy it.  If I were to recommend buying only one album off this whole list–for cultural significance alone–this would be the one.  (Which I know is weird since it’s at #6 instead of #1.)

5. U2 – “Songs of Experience”

u2Well they’ve done it again.  U2 has made an album that is quintessentially U2, but is also a complete reinvention of the sound and feel of the band.  Again.  I don’t know how they keep doing that.  But they did.  The songs are instantly singable–you’ll be singing along on the second chorus of most of them.  The lyrics are moving.  In the same way Living Colour’s album made me want to fight, this album addresses the same issues and makes me want to talk.  Somewhere between the two, there are probably some answers.

4. Ray Davies – “Americana”

ray daviesI don’t know what it is with British guys writing better songs about the American experience than Americans do…but here we go with it again.  We may never get Ray and Dave Davies back on the stage to give us the Kinks reunion we’ve all been hoping for…but what we’re getting instead is stellar. On “Americana” Ray works with the Jayhawks and provides a story of an Englishman fleeing his parents living room and finding peace in the American plains.  Or California.  Somewhere.  Stylistically, the album is aptly named.  The songs are earthy and folky, lending themselves to the story Ray wants to tell.  And those stories are a joy to listen to.

3. Aimee Mann – “Mental Illness”

aimee mannThis is probably no surprise to anyone who knows my taste. Aimee Mann’s albums have consistently been finding my top ten list since 2008 (or possibly earlier–I can’t remember if “The Forgotten Arm” did or not, but it should have if it didn’t).  “Mental Illness” might be some of her best work, so putting it on this list is a no-brainer.  It’s beautiful music about dysfunction.  The lead single “Goose Snow Cone” almost made me cry the first time I heard it. The whole album is full of beautiful, acoustic-driven, lushly-stringed, elegantly layered vocal parts that warm you up while giving you chills all at once.  As I keep saying about Aimee Mann, she writes songs that make feeling screwed up feel a lot less lonely.  And I love her for that.

2. Manchester Orchestra – “A Black Mile to the Surface”

manchesterWow, what a listen.  Manchester Orchestra found the top of my list with their album “Cope” a few years back. Although I eventually retconned that after discovering Against Me’s “Transgender Dysphoria Blues,” but I digress…  I was new to Manchester Orchestra at the time of “Cope,” and was blown away.  They then released “Hope” which was exactly the same song list, but stripped down to acoustic, softer, prettier versions.  I loved the first one but thought the second was an interesting experiment that ultimately felt like a cop-out to me–I didn’t even count it as an official album.  I wasn’t sure what to expect out of a new album as a result.  I knew they could be heavy.  I knew they could be delicately melodic.  What I didn’t know was that they could do both at the exact same time, taking the sum of their last two projects and releasing something wholly new.
Perhaps the best compliment I can pay this album is that in the days where everybody else is writing singles, Manchester Orchestra’s “A Black Mile to the Surface” is an ALBUM.  It sucks you in deep and you won’t want to leave the world they’ve built.  It’s a world I look forward to exploring for YEARS to come.

1. Ryan Adams – “Prisoner”

Ryan AdamsI don’t think I ever had a question in my mind about this one. It came out on February 17 and I think I’ve listened to it at least twice a month every month ever since.  From the first moment I played it, it felt like an old friend.  It’s great Americana/Rock music.  Songs about heartbreak and loss–who doesn’t love that?–and a tone that would have felt at home in the 70s, yet still manages to feel fresh today.  From the first moment I heard it to every draft of “possible top ten candidates,” this has been the first one to come to mind.  I don’t have much else to say.  This is very simply a great rock record that doesn’t pretend to be anything else.  So it’s #1.

Honorable Mentions:

This is an enormous list.  I’m pretty much JUST going to list them–with very few words following…  This is in no particular order–it is also not all of the other 34 albums I bought this year; just a few I wanted to mention.

  • Guided By Voices – “August By Cake” – Probably should’ve been #11; see above.
  • Gord Downie – “Introduce Yerself” – Bought too late to be eligible…but as the years go by, there’s a good chance this will feel like a glaring omission. It’s fantastic.
  • Mastodon – “Emperor of Sand” – Liked it a lot, but not quite enough…when it’s three weeks after I’ve bought it and I find out it was a concept album, but I had no idea, it’s just not a top 10 album.  Good, solid metal though.
  • Jade Jackson – “Gilded” – I LOVE this record, but had to make cuts somewhere.
  • Foo Fighters – “Concrete and Gold” – Again…this one’s EXCELLENT and it was a tough call, but I only had 10 slots!
  • Flogging Molly – “Life is Good” – Aaaaaaaagh! Why can’t they ALL be top 10s?
  • Sharon Jones and the DAP Kings – “Soul of a Woman” – This is going to be a sentimental listen for a long time to come.  Great songs on this one.
  • Japandroids – “Near to the Wild Heart of Life” – Tons of fun–almost made the list.
  • War on Drugs – “A Deeper Understanding” – Spacey and wonderful.
  • Roger Waters – “Is This the Life We Really Want?” – BROKE MY HEART not to put this one in the top 10. As far as I’m concerned, THIS is the final Pink Floyd record.  Sorry David…
  • Alice Cooper – “Paranormal” – Really solid late-era Alice.
  • Wesley Stace – “Wesley Stace’s John Wesley Harding” – Pretentious, folky, and wonderful.

Now that THAT’s out of the way… Here’s one last look at just the top 10:

The Ten

Thanks for reading! And if I don’t see you before then, have a Merry Christmas!

Current Listening:

  • Frank Zappa – “Apostrophe” and “Overnite Sensation”